Happy ending: Nurses end protest, accept three-year contract

Published: March 18, 2014

The nurses ended their sit-in on The Mall at around 1:30pm. PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: 

The protesting nurses have announced an end to their agitation across the Punjab and the sit-in outside the Punjab assembly. The government promised them on Monday that no ad hoc nurse would be sacked.

The ad hoc nurses had split into two groups on the question of accepting the government’s offer of three-year contracts followed by regular appointments. Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafiuqe had distributed contract letters among 67 ad hoc nurses on Sunday.

“We had some reservations but now we have accepted the offer. After the completion of this three-year term, all 2,800 nurses will be regularised without appearing before the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC),” said Saima, an ad hoc nurse.

The nurses ended their sit-in on The Mall at around 1:30pm, opening it for traffic from Hall Road to the Chairing Cross.

The issue

Health Department records say there are 11,065 sanctioned posts for nurses in the Punjab, of which 10,181 have been filled. There are 2,800 ad hoc nurses.

“The government plans to recruit nurses through the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) for regular job. For this purpose, ad hoc nurses had to be removed as their contracts had been expired. Now, the government has offered them contracts and later they will be regularised. There is no provision in the law that allows ad hoc nurses to be directly regularised,” an official of the Health Department said.

While the issue of ad hoc nurses has been resolved, the matter of a service structure for nurses remains.

“No nurse after the batch of 1985 was promoted from BS 16 to BS 17. We demand that the nurses who have served for 10 years be promoted to the next grade but this demand has not been accepted. The sit-in primarily started on the call of Young Nurses Association (YNA) and we announced to end it when the government assured us it will work on the service structure. Ad hoc nurses who had no jobs refused to go home until they were regularised. They stayed there for eight days and now that the government has given them three-year contracts, they have also ended their protest,” Shazia Bibi, a leader of YNA, said.

Legal concerns

Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique said the chief minister had said no nurse be left jobless and a legal procedure be adopted for regularising their services.

Rafique said under service rules, ad-hoc nurses could be regularised. He said the Health Department in consultation with other departments adopted a legal middle ground which caused a delay of a few days.

He said 1,500 vacancies were being created for promoting regular nurses to next the grade.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2014.

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